Food Additives Chart

Types of Food Additives and Ingredients

The following food additives chart is a snapshot of the types of common ingredients that are added to food. It shows why they are used, and provides some examples of names that can be found on product labels. Some additives are used for more than one purpose.

Types of Food Additives What Food Additives Do Examples of Uses for Food Additives Food Additives Names on Product Labels
Food Preservatives Prevent food spoilage from bacteria, molds, fungi, or yeast (antimicrobials); slow or prevent changes in color, flavor, or texture and delay rancidity (antioxidants); maintain freshness Fruit sauces and jellies, beverages, baked goods, cured meats, oils and margarines, cereals, dressings, snack foods, fruits and vegetables Ascorbic acid, citric acid, sodium benzoate, calcium propionate, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite, calcium sorbate, potassium sorbate, BHA, BHT, EDTA, tocopherols (Vitamin E)
Food Sweeteners Add sweetness with or without the extra caloriesBeverages, baked goods, confections, table-top sugar, substitutes, many processed foods Sucrose (sugar), glucose, fructose, sorbitol, mannitol, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, saccharin, aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame potassium (acesulfame-K), neotame
Colors Added to Foods Offset color loss due to exposure to light, air, temperature extremes, moisture and storage conditions; correct natural variations in color; enhance colors that occur naturally; provide color to colorless and "fun" foods Many processed foods, (candies, snack foods margarine, cheese, soft drinks, jams/jellies, gelatins, pudding and pie fillings) FD&C Blue Nos. 1 and 2, FD&C Green No. 3, FD&C Red Nos. 3 and 40, FD&C Yellow Nos. 5 and 6, Orange B, Citrus Red No. 2, annatto extract, beta-carotene, grape skin extract, cochineal extract or carmine, paprika oleoresin, caramel color, fruit and vegetable juices, saffron (Note: Exempt color additives are not required to be declared by name on labels but may be declared simply as colorings or color added)
Flavors, Spices and Herbs Add specific flavors (natural and synthetic) Pudding and pie fillings, gelatin dessert mixes, cake mixes, salad dressings, candies, soft drinks, ice cream, BBQ sauce Natural flavoring, artificial flavor, spices and herbs
Flavor Enhancers Enhance flavors already present in foods (without providing their own separate flavor) Many processed foods Monosodium glutamate (MSG), hydrolyzed soy protein, autolyzed yeast extract, disodium guanylate or inosinate
Fat Substitutions in Foods (and components of formulations used to replace fats) Provide expected texture and a creamy "mouth-feel" in reduced-fat foods Baked goods, dressings, frozen desserts, confections, cake and dessert mixes, dairy products Olestra, cellulose gel, carrageenan, polydextrose, modified food starch, microparticulated egg white protein, guar gum, xanthan gum, whey protein concentrate
Nutrients Added to Foods Replace vitamins and minerals lost in processing (enrichment), add nutrients that may be lacking in the diet (fortification) Flour, breads, cereals, rice, macaroni, margarine, salt, milk, fruit beverages, energy bars, instant breakfast drinks Thiamine hydrochloride, riboflavin (Vitamin B2), niacin, niacinamide, folate or folic acid, beta carotene, potassium iodide, iron or ferrous sulfate, alpha tocopherols, ascorbic acid, Vitamin D, amino acids (L-tryptophan, L-lysine, L-leucine, L-methionine)
Food Emulsifiers Allow smooth mixing of ingredients, prevent separation; keep emulsified products stable, reduce stickiness, control crystallization, keep ingredients dispersed, and to help products dissolve more easily Salad dressings, peanut butter, chocolate, margarine, frozen desserts Soy lecithin, mono- and diglycerides, egg yolks, polysorbates, sorbitan monostearate
Food Stabilizers, Thickeners, Binders, Texturizers Produce uniform texture, improve "mouth-feel" Frozen desserts, dairy products, cakes, pudding and gelatin mixes, dressings, jams and jellies, sauces Gelatin, pectin, guar gum, carrageenan, xanthan gum, whey
pH Control Agents and Acidulants in Foods Control acidity and alkalinity, prevent spoilage Beverages, frozen desserts, chocolate, low acid canned foods, baking powder Lactic acid, citric acid, ammonium hydroxide, sodium carbonate
Leavening Agents Added to Foods Promote rising of baked goods Breads and other baked goods Baking soda, monocalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, hartshorn, ammonium bicarbonate, carbonate of ammonia, powdered baking ammonia
Anti-caking Agents in Foods Keep powdered foods free-flowing, prevent moisture absorption Salt, baking powder, confectioners sugar Calcium silicate, iron ammonium citrate, silicon dioxide, magnesium carbonate
Humectants Added to Foods Retain moisture Shredded coconut, marshmallows, soft candies, confections Glycerin, sorbitol
Yeast Nutrients Added to Foods Promote growth of yeast Breads and other baked goods Calcium sulfate, ammonium phosphate
Dough Strengtheners and Conditioners Produce more stable dough Breads and other baked goods Ammonium sulfate, azodicarbonamide, L-cysteine
Firming Agents Added to Foods Maintain crispness and firmness Processed fruits and vegetables Alum (Ammonium aluminum sulfate), calcium chloride, calcium lactate
Enzyme Preparations Added to Foods Modify proteins, polysaccharides and fats Cheese, dairy products, meat Enzymes, lactase, papain, rennet, chymosin
Gases Added to FoodsServe as propellant, aerate, or create carbonation Oil cooking spray, whipped cream, carbonated beverages Carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide

Return to Food Additives - Ingredients from Food Additives Chart

Return to Home Page from Food Additives Chart

Go to Spice Recalls - Market Withdrawals - Safety Alerts from Food Additives Chart

New! Comments

Have something to say about what you just read? Leave me a comment in the box below.

Food Additives Resources

Got questions?

Get answers about food additives and ingredients.

Food and Drug Administration

Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN)  5100 Paint Branch Parkway College Park, MD 20740-3835

Color Additives Information Color Additives 

Toll free information line: 1-888-SAFEFOOD (723-3366)

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Food Safety and Inspection Service Food Safety Education Staff 1400 Independence Ave., SW Room 2932-S

Washington, DC 20250-3700

Food Additives Information Fact Sheets on Additives

Meat and Poultry Hotline: 1-800-535-4555

TTY: 1-800-256-7072


Food and Nutrition Information Center (FNIC)

USDA Ag Research Service

10301 Baltimore Ave.

Beltsville, MD 20705-2351



International Food Information Council Foundation (IFIC) IFIC

1100 Connecticut Ave., NW Suite 430

Washington, DC 20036

202-296-6540                Email:

American Dietetic Association (ADA) ADA

216 W. Jackson Blvd. Chicago, IL 60606-6995


The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) FAAN

11781 Lee Jackson Hwy. Suite 160 Fairfax, VA 22033 1-800-929-4040


Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) IFT

525 West Van Buren Suite 1000 Chicago, IL 60607 1-800-IFT-FOOD (438-3663)